POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.—Double header sweeps are hard to come by, but the Red Foxes did just that on Saturday.
Charlie Jerla took the mound for Marist and got some run support from Greg Kocinki in the third inning, grounding out to score Anthony Lazar. Jerla did not run into trouble until the fourth inning when Niagara’s Trevor McCauley singled to tie the game at one. Marist built a lead of 5-1 during the fourth inning thanks to RBIs from Randy Taveras, Jordan Roper and Nick Cantone. All five runs came off of Niagara’s starter Cody Eckerson.
Down by three in the sixth, Niagara tied the game with a three run double off the bat of Michael Gabriele.
The smiling faces ended there for Niagara.
Marist opened up the floodgates in the bottom half of the frame. Their lineup was relentless, piecing together one quality at-bat after another. Catcher Chris Tracz snuck a two run single through the right side, Tyler Kapuscinski and Kocinki added RBIs of their own and Taveras capped it off with a two-run single.
Marist went on to win 13-9. Jerla locked up his third win of the season, and finished with six earned runs and five strikeouts scattered over 6.2 innings. He gave his team length, which on a day like today, was much appreciated.
Winning at least one game of a double header is looked at as a good day. Marist wanted it to be a great day.
Conor McNamara got the ball for the start of game two, looking to extend his four-game winning streak. He gave up a run in the first after Niagara’s Greg Cullen ripped a double to deep center field that scored Benny Serrano. Marist quickly answered in the bottom half of the frame, scoring three runs off of Niagara starter Zachary Kolodziejski.
Kapuscinski started the scoring for Marist with a single to right field. Frankie Gregoire followed him with a single to left that scored Kocinki. Roper flied out to left field for a sacrifice fly to plate the third run for the Red Foxes.
McNamara settled down after the first, retiring the next twelve batters he faced until catcher Steven Kokoski lifted a home run to left center field in the top of the fifth. That cut Marist’s lead in half.
Niagara was able to tie the game in the sixth when Peter Battaglia crushed a solo shot to left field, ending McNamara’s day. He gave up three earned runs over the course of 5.1 innings and struck out four.
The game was locked at 3-3 until the top of the eighth when Marist reliever Mike Coss entered with two runners on. Coss walked his first batter and then hit outfielder Dawson Bailey to force in a run. Niagara didn’t stop there, as Darian Blanks singled the middle to score Owen Dziados. Niagara then took advantage of an Anthony Lazar fielding error and expanded their lead to 6-3.
With a runner on, Marist’s Frankie Gregoire responded with a home run to right field. That brought Marist within two. Tracz grounded out to second to score Taveras, who doubled earlier in the inning. Down by one, Reece Armitage singled, Lazar singled and then Andrew Rouse followed the theme and singled home the tying run.
Tyler Dearden pitched a scoreless top of the ninth and set up a heroic ending. Not wanting to go to extra innings, Tracz launched a walk-off two run home run to cap off a very good day for the Red Foxes. The final score of game two was 9-7.
“It was a hard fought day,” said Marist Head Coach Chris Tracz. “I don’t think I’ve had a series like that at my time here at Marist where we just really, really competed for 16 innings. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t always effective, but at the end of the day, we fought and played with a lot of resilience and togetherness and figured out a way to win. I couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Both victories were hard to come by, but obviously the team will gladly take them. The sweep brings Marist to 14-14 on the year and 6-3 in conference play.